The University of Surrey’s Institute for People-Centred AI places people at the heart of AI, augmenting human capabilities to deliver an inclusive and responsible force for good.
It’s part of the University’s commitment to embracing AI in education, says Prof. Tim Dunne, Provost and Senior Vice-President at the University of Surrey.
“We don’t just think AI is about coding — it’s about the application and possibilities that exist within AI,” he shares.
“The reason why it’s an institute is that we don’t want AI to be just in physics or engineering. The role of an institute is to cut across the different departments and schools and to reach into every single discipline.”
Dunne spoke during a panel titled “Me, myself and AI: Impact of the 4th industrial revolution,” which took place at the QS Higher Ed Summit: Asia Pacific 2023 held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from Nov. 7 to. 9.
The Provost and Senior Vice-President at the University of Surrey shared the stage with Dr. Lerwen Liu (Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship at Nanyang Technological University Singapore), Miras Daulenov (President of Narxoz University), Robert Smith (Director of Higher Education & eResearch — APAC at Microsoft), and Prof. Dr. Norazah Nordin (Deputy Vice Chancellor, Industrial Network and Community Affairs at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
Launched in 2021, the pan-university institute brings together Surrey’s core AI-related expertise in vision, speech and signal processing, computer science, and mathematics.
It complements the university’s expertise across engineering and the physical sciences, human and animal health, law and regulation, business, finance and the art and social sciences.
Spearheaded by a group of academics, the institute focuses on tackling five challenges: Trustworthy and responsible AI; AI for education, information and entertainment; AI for health and wellbeing; human-AI interaction, and AI for society.
Much of the work done here addresses the national importance of AI for the benefit of society and the economy as recognised in the UK government’s new AI strategy “new 10-year plan to make the UK a global AI superpower”, launched in September 2021.
“About our programmes, we have pioneered the first face-to-face master’s programme in AI in the UK and that’s attracted a large group of students — many international students — which is terrific for us,” Dunne shares during the panel.
“We are also about to conclude an agreement with edX, the huge educational platform, to develop 15 global master’s programmes. One of the first caps off the rack will be a programme in AI.”
AI in education: Filling the gap through investing in the right infrastructures
Google and Microsoft are no strangers when it comes to AI in education on the global stage, as well as within the Asia-Pacific region.
Smith, who is the Director of Higher Education & eResearch — APAC at Microsoft, aspires to help students and faculty overcome the price point in using large language models (LLM) like ChatGPT, other open-source LLMs, and commercial vendors.
Users usually have to pay a premium to access additional features, like what OpenAI is doing with ChatGPT+.
“We’ve built an open source to provide all the models and frameworks, but also the development technologies as well,” said Smith.
“Now, we have hackathons, events, and boot camps with students every year, solving sustainable development challenges that align with technology. We’ll see adoptions of AI tutors and AI coaches for the scale within universities and schooling systems.”
Google helps students and educational institutions through various initiatives, according to Raja Azmi, the Country Director for Google for Education (Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei)
With Google Cloud, students prepare for a cloud-first world. The cloud is a distributed collection of servers that host software and infrastructures.
The company also gives instructors and students access to learning programmes, curricula, and communities that enhance learning and prepare students for life after graduation.